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3 Levels of Awareness



To develop the capacity to tune into our mental, physical, and emotional states 


Materials needed:

  • paper 

  • something to draw with 

  • something to write with


Set up: 

Not much time is needed for this- You can tune into the 3 Levels of Awareness within the setting of a larger reflective practice such as meditation, do it on it’s own as a reflective practice, or tune in quickly in under a minute when feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or curious



Take a moment to stop whatever else you are doing

Find a quiet space, and tune in to your breathing


Bring your attention to your body. Starting at your head, briefly scan from your head down to your feet, noting any strong sensations of tingling, tightness, pain, relaxation, buzzing, numbness, or warmth. 


After scanning your body, notice if there is a color, shape, texture, symbol or image related to your physical experience. No need to force it, just see what arises.


On an inhale, transition from attention to your body to bring awareness to your emotions. You can use physical sensation as a “key” or  a ”bridge” to emotions. (For example, tightness in your belly may be an indication of tension or stress, a clenched jaw could indicate anger or irritation). 


Find an emotion word to label what you’re feeling


Again, see if there is a color, shape, texture, image or symbol that is connected to how you’re feeling, without forcing it or striving too much. 


Finally, with your breath, tune in to your mental experience-  what’s on your mind? Notice where your mind goes- stuck in the past, planning for the future, or distracted in the present? While noting the content, you can also notice the quality of your thinking. Is your thinking crowded or spacious? Fast or slow? Critical, neutral or kind?


Again, being curious about any color, shape, texture, symbol or image that comes up in connection to your mental check in. 


Wrapping up: 

Draw the  color, shape, symbol, etc. related to each level and write down what you notice.* 

Are there any patterns or connections across the levels? 

Do they seem connected or disconnected from one another? 

Is there a way that one level tends to dominate your awareness? 

Anything surprising?


Include any other insights or questions.


*you can also work in the imaginal realm, and share verbally what the image or color is if there is no access to materials



This is a skill that can be developed. Often in the beginning all 3 levels feel very ‘entangled’ and difficult to tease apart. Checking on our 3 levels of awareness regularly provides some space between our thoughts, feelings, and actions and allows us to consider and reflect versus react when feeling overwhelmed or triggered. 


As always- it’s a process & you can’t do it wrong!

Have more questions about EXA? You can check out my blog, which talks more about about expressive arts therapy here.  

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